Vocoders! (and these need to sound GOOD)

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Vocoders! (and these need to sound GOOD)

Post by TRANSISTOR FACE » Fri Nov 20, 2009 12:34 am

Hey guys,

I've been using my electrix warp factory with a specific patch (basically detuned unison with some pwm and a bit of noise) on my jupiter six to get the specific vocoded sound I was after... but it's killing my workflow!
I'd love to be able to play the strings/pads/whatever else on the Jup6 and mess around with vocals on top without having to switch back and forth between patches and settings.

I'm also going to be playing live soon enough and it seems like such a waste to use the Jup6 solely as the sound source for the vocoder... not to mention that it's kind of annoying to gig with rackmount gear and a fullsized keyboard on top of everything else.

So I'm basically looking for preferably a small-sized, compact vocoder keyboard... and I know that I've got the embarrassment of choice with these but my concern is that they won't sound as intelligible as the electrix/jup6 combo did. (oh, and I'd like to be able to plug in my own mic... )

I've heard the microkorg... and that's certainly out of the question. Way too robotic... which is not the sound I'm going for at all.

So now I'm thinking "hey, the micron has a 40band vocoder... that's a lot of bands!"
and the miniak apparently has even more bands in it's vocoder...

I guess the question is, will these synths allow me to make a sound simillar to the one I've been using? That would mean that the synth itself would have to be able to make something similar to a detuned unision (with the pwm and saw waves active) plus a bit of white noise... and that the vocoder would have to be as clear as the electrix.

here's an example of what I'm talking about...

http://www.myspace.com/jupitersex

And yeah, I know that the vocoder thing is super gimmicky... but I'm trying to make it seem "believable" in the context of the live show through the music, costume and visuals... know what I mean?

Thanks for the help!

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Re: Vocoders! (and these need to sound GOOD)

Post by pricklyrobot » Fri Nov 20, 2009 1:58 am

The Nord Modular has an excellent vocoder, and the keyboard version (G1) is about as small as a MicroKorg.
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Re: Vocoders! (and these need to sound GOOD)

Post by TRANSISTOR FACE » Fri Nov 20, 2009 5:51 am

oh hey wow, yeah, I didn't even think of the G1 at all!

I think that may be the one... It's tweakable as h**l so I'd be surprised if I was unable to find a sound that I was happy with.

Lets hope I can find one used and for a decent price...

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Re: Vocoders! (and these need to sound GOOD)

Post by TRANSISTOR FACE » Fri Nov 20, 2009 7:02 pm

... I just read that the G1 only has a 16 band vocoder and that seems a bit low compared to the micron or miniak's 40band one...

So yeah, upon closer inspection it may not be the best option for me.

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Re: Vocoders! (and these need to sound GOOD)

Post by masstronaut » Fri Nov 20, 2009 7:11 pm

The Micron vocoder is notoriously difficult to get good 'vocal' results from. The Microkorg vocoder is much more usable tbh. Maybe not the sound you are looking for but it's not just about the number of bands...

Vocoder 'too robotic'? You what? :?: ;)

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Re: Vocoders! (and these need to sound GOOD)

Post by pricklyrobot » Sat Nov 21, 2009 12:35 am

More bands does not a better vocoder make.

Most of the classics (Moog, Bode, EMS) had only 16 bands, and some (VP-330) had fewer. The Electrix has only 24 bands, and you don't even have individual control over them like on the Nord Mod.

Hyping the number of bands a vocoder has only makes it sound better on paper.
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Re: Vocoders! (and these need to sound GOOD)

Post by TRANSISTOR FACE » Sat Nov 21, 2009 1:30 am

right, I totally get how the vintage moog or roland vocoders could (and probably do) sound better... but it's just that they have that very "old school" vocoder sound to them.. you know?

I guess what I'm saying is that that vintage vocoder sound is actually NOT what I'm looking for right now. I'm thinking more in terms of "the more accurate, the better".

I'm also trying to keep it reasonably compact and inexpensive for live performance... As much as I'd like to gig with all my analog and rack gear, I'm willing to compromise for the peace of mind that my rarer machines are safely locked up in the studio.

They're having a big sale down at the local music store and a good deal can be had for the miniaks... so I might go check those out and see if they're what I'm looking for.

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Re: Vocoders! (and these need to sound GOOD)

Post by Hugo76 » Sun Nov 22, 2009 12:48 am

Have you considered the MicroKorg XL's vocoder? It has 16 bands afaik, as opposed to the originals 8. Also the R3 might be worth checking out (is it the same as in the XL..?)

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Re: Vocoders! (and these need to sound GOOD)

Post by tallowwaters » Sun Nov 22, 2009 5:28 pm

Electro Harmonix V256 has 256 bands, sounds good, is pretty flexible, and has plenty of other effects to boot. I do agree that a MicroModular sounds tits for vocoding.
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Re: Vocoders! (and these need to sound GOOD)

Post by pricklyrobot » Sun Nov 22, 2009 7:13 pm

tallowwaters wrote:Electro Harmonix V256 has 256 bands, sounds good, is pretty flexible, and has plenty of other effects to boot. I do agree that a MicroModular sounds tits for vocoding.
I think he wanted a keyboard vocoder though, didn't he?

Although speaking of the V256, is it a replacement for the recent EHX Voice Box, or did they just issue two really similar products in close proximity?
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Re: Vocoders! (and these need to sound GOOD)

Post by tallowwaters » Mon Nov 23, 2009 4:20 pm

pricklyrobot wrote:
tallowwaters wrote:Electro Harmonix V256 has 256 bands, sounds good, is pretty flexible, and has plenty of other effects to boot. I do agree that a MicroModular sounds tits for vocoding.
I think he wanted a keyboard vocoder though, didn't he?

Although speaking of the V256, is it a replacement for the recent EHX Voice Box, or did they just issue two really similar products in close proximity?
You can run a line out of your keyboard into the V256. It has midi too.

It has nothing to do with the Voice Box. It has several different flavors of vocoder, a voice transformer (change pitch but not formant thingy), and that hard edged auto tune thing. I did make a demo, though I think the yousendit expired.

The Voice Box is for making harmonies and has a limited vocoder built in.
Brains can be used like a "stress ball," but only once.

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Re: Vocoders! (and these need to sound GOOD)

Post by plikestechno » Tue Nov 24, 2009 12:17 am

I bought it mostly because I wanted the case but a doepfer/eurorack case I bought last week had the full doepfer vocoder system in it (A-129 1-5)

Has anybody used one of these? Had fun with it? It looks really intense. Only samples I've heard were Florian Schneider using one (apparently Kraftwerk consulted the desgin) and a really bad noisy video of a guy who I think was in an electronic music lab for the first time.

I don't have a vocoder so I'm kind of excited but if I don't end up using it much it takes up a lot of rack space.
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Re: Vocoders! (and these need to sound GOOD)

Post by impaler42 » Tue Nov 24, 2009 2:49 am

question: does the quality of the condenser microphone you use have a big effect on how good the vocoded signal sounds?

i have an R3 with an XLR input on the front, and I was thinking about investing in a high quality mic.
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Re: Vocoders! (and these need to sound GOOD)

Post by tallowwaters » Tue Nov 24, 2009 4:27 am

Use any decent quality EV or Shure dynamic. You can't use a a real condenser mic. That included mic is probably an electet.
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Re: Vocoders! (and these need to sound GOOD)

Post by impaler42 » Tue Nov 24, 2009 11:18 pm

Thanks Tallow, Im using a nice shure microphone now to great effect.

Im actually building a channel vocoder in Matlab for my Speech Perception semester project. It uses FFTs instead of bandpass filters. Very interested in finding super expressive vocoders so I can try and emulate them.
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